JAKIYA Whitfeld didn’t expect her transition from junior to senior rugby sevens to be this successful.
Whitfeld has made a big impression in her senior debut at the ongoing AON Sevens but the journey through the senior ranks has reached a new peak for the Bathurst player after being named in the Australian squad to play in the Oceania Sevens.
The Oceania Sevens will bring together the best open-age players from the continent to Fiji next month but the Bathurst 17-year-old is confident she can match her opponents in physicality and speed.
“It’s probably my greatest achievement so far. I’m just really happy that I’m getting something out of the work and it’s going to be a great experience,” she said.
“They’ve already qualified for the Olympics so they’re taking a few development girls over to get them some time out there and some experience.
“It’s a bit nerve wracking since it’s women’s [open age] rugby but it’s great to play in this level.
“AON was my first women’s competition, and I was nervous playing against those bigger girls, but it hasn’t been too bad for me.”
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The speedster – who has already earned the nickname ‘Winx’ from her Sydney University teammates – has been in great try-scoring form during the AON Sevens series.
Whitfeld has shown plenty of pace, much like the champion mare who her teammates compare her to, and hopes to continue turning heads going into the final round this weekend.
“They’ve been a great bunch of girls to play with, which really helps,” Whitfeld said.
“Being from Bathurst I don’t get that much time playing, especially tackle, and at my age. Being able to play at this level consistently has really helped me as a player.
“Comparing me as a player from last year to now I’ve made it pretty far in terms of selection. I feel like anything can happen from here.”
The Oceania Sevens tournament will take place in Suva, Fiji over November 9 and 10.
Teams contesting the women’s competition are Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Nauru, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and defending champions New Zealand.